Has Ibiza’s Commission of Inquiry proved the “probable merchantability” of the former government of the ÖVP and FPÖ? Opinions on this differ. Now is the end of the commission – for now.
Vienna (dpa) – In Austria, the Ibiza inquiry committee is coming to an end. The latest inquiry scheduled for today by ex-Vice Chancellor Heinz-Christian Strache has been cancelled. The 52-year-old canceled due to illness.
This means that there can only be one internal session of the parliamentary body. The commission investigated the suspicion that the coalition of the conservative ÖVP and the right-wing FPÖ, which ruled from 2017 to 2019, was for sale.
The investigation was set in motion by the Ibiza video published in 2017 that led to the alliance’s breach. In the video, Strache appeared prone to corruption. He denies the allegations.
Committee members have reviewed hundreds of thousands of data and documents and interviewed more than 100 people for more than a year. The parties are now drawing completely different conclusions from the committee. As the opposition sees suspicions of intolerable proximity between government and businesses being confirmed, the ÖVP locates an attempt by the opposition to “permanently disgrace” normal trials. One of the consequences of the commission was the resignation of the head of state of the ÖBAG, Thomas Schmid. Chats secured on his cell phone had put him at risk.
The committee has deepened the domestic political rifts in Austria through the sharp disputes. Most recently, Finance Minister Gernot Blümel (ÖVP) submitted numerous files to the committee, much to the indignation of the opposition, only under pressure from the Federal President. He justified this – on the basis of legal reports – with data protection, among other things. Chancellor and ÖVP boss Sebastian Kurz could be charged before the commission on suspicion of false testimony. He is said to have downplayed his influence in appointing his confidant Schmid as boss of ÖBAG. He denies the allegations.
The opposition wanted to expand the commission, but the ruling parties ÖVP and the Greens refused. The final reports will be drawn up in the coming weeks. Later, all submitted files must be destroyed. If the bodywork is restarted, these would have to be requested again. A special session of the National Council on the late submission of files is planned for the near future. The opposition demands the resignation of Finance Minister Blümel.